Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Conservation and Cataloging 101

Recently at Fanshawe Pioneer Village I had the opportunity to work on conserving and cataloging some new artifact acquisitions.  Shanna, the curator, gave me a few lessons and let me loose to learn by doing.  I documented my first real curatorial experience to share with all of you.  Enjoy!

This is what waited for me at work last week.

Tin trucks! Before adding them to the collection, 
these artifacts needed to be cleaned and cataloged.

My supplies

First step is to remove as much dirt and debris 
with brushes.  Unfortunately since these toys 
were covered with grime, the brushed did little 
more than move the dirt around.

Next I used a soft cloth to removed more dust.

This is a solution of orvus and water.
I'm not sure the ratio, as Shanna 
mixed it for me in advance.

Just a little of this solution on a soft rag to get it 
damp does wonders.  Check out that dirt from just 
one side of the truck.  I went through a lot of rags.

For all the nooks and crannies I used q-tips.  
I went through even more of these than rags.

Immediately after cleaning, I went over with a dry rag.

I cleaned the trucks in sections, with some 
being more challenging/time consuming than others

Finally all shiny and clean! 
(It took me two full days to do all five.)

After they were clean we did a photo shoot.  
Part of this was for cataloging the items later, 
and some for the museum newsletter 
which often features new acquisitions.

This is one of my favorite shots.

 Next was cataloging.  I entered the new artifacts 
into the PastPerfect database.  Notice the tape 
measure for including dimensions, and the 
research to discuss the history of the trucks.

Every new artifact is given an accession number.  
This number is also written on the item so it can
be easily identified in the collection database.
The first step is putting a layer of clear lacquer on the truck.


Then the number is applied with a quick-drying ink.  
I used India ink which I applied with a nib pen.

This took quite the steady hand, but once the ink was dry 
I covered the numbers with another layer of clear lacquer.

  Unfortunately, until the new Visitor Centre is built, there 
is no place to display the trucks.  So into storage they go.

Two days of work complete with many   
conservation and cataloging lessons learned.

Some of you may have noticed that I didn't wear gloves during this process.  Now that these artifacts have been accessioned, you would typically wear gloves when handling them.  However, when cleaning gloves can actually cause more harm by not allowing a firm grip, leading to dropping the artifacts. This is why I do not have on the typical white gloves during the cleaning process.

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